Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

VIA Blogger Meetup

with 6 comments

I have just returned from a couple of hours at the Roundhouse with a group of bloggers invited there by VIA Architecture. I was pleased to chat with fellow local bloggers Gordon Price, Erika Rathje, Richard Eriksson, Karen Fung and Mike Klassen. There were nibbles and drinks courtesy of our hosts who are keen to continue the great urban debate (or perhaps that should be conversation) and will also be holding a similar meetup for local bloggers in Seattle. VIA have their own blog too.

Towards the end of the evening I managed to get to talk to Graham McGarva. I told him that one of the reasons I was intrigued by their invitation was that it mentioned their current work on the Evergreen Line. I had thought that project stalled for lack of funds, but apparently work is still proceeding on planning – specifically on determining the precise alignment, and its effect on local land use. The project may be stalled now by the absence of sufficient funding, but it is assumed that can be resolved, somehow. While it is not clear yet how that might happen one possible answer would be trimming the specification: after all, that was how the Canada Line got built, when its budget was not enough to pay for all that was originally desired. It is also possible that Translink may be able to come up with more funds through property development. Again this is something that Translink has been looking at for over a year now, but has yet to make any specific proposals.

Graham and I last worked together back when the Millennium Line was at a similar stage of development. He told me an interesting story tonight that I had not heard before of how the retail development at Broadway and Commercial was achieved. This is one of the few stations on the Translink system which actually manages to be truly an urban place, through a modest but strategically located retail building on the north east corner of the intersection. As architects they had no power of decision making but they could be, as he put it, “in all three rooms”. That is they were trusted by the client (the province’s project office) the City and the local community. They were therefore able to determine what each would accept – and thus came up with a proposal for the small parcel of land owned by the project but not actually needed for the station itself. There were several possibilities – and a quick look around most transit stations in this region will show that they are rarely as successfully resolved.

Hopefully, the Evergreen Line will get started in earnest, and when it does the involvement of a firm like this gives me some hope that we will really see some worthwhile transit oriented development in this region, something I feel is long overdue.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 20, 2010 at 10:02 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Maybe trimming the specification will mean going back to the LRT plan, but even that plan had some serious flaws.

    I still think the Clarke Road hill makes the planned route too expensive for the number of people likely to use the system in the next 50 years, but at least the Tri-cities have tried to develop the corridor in expectation of something with more appeal and capacity than the 97 B-Line.

    Now if only the route actually went where the people and business are located.

    Trams should go down the middle of St. Johns and then up to Guildford Drive like Coquitlam city council envisioned years ago when they set aside land for the purpose. Using railway corridors or the middle of Barnet highway spells doom for ridership. Nothing discourages passengers like poor accessibility. Unless you put transit where the people are, they won’t use it.


    January 21, 2010 at 12:32 am

  2. I seem to recall in the early 1990s that an office tower was proposed for the “Hub” site at Broadway & Commercial (well before the M-Line was conceived) – I I think it was to straddle the guideway as VanCity does). It was rejected by the City of Vancouver. Imagine the transit-oriented node that would exist now, if it had been built? The “Hub” may be quaint, and appease the NIMBYs, but “highest and best use” at a major rapid transit crossroads – it isn’t.

    Ron C.

    January 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm

  3. Actually Stephen, it’s interesting that you mentioned about issues with funding and the moving forward of transportation projects with regards to the Evergreen and Canada Lines. Oddly enough, the Las Vegas Monorail, filing for bankruptcy protection now, is trying to use that as a means of extending the monorail to the airport.

    Adrian Leung

    January 21, 2010 at 10:32 pm

  4. It was great to catch up with you! Thanks for the link. Interesting update about the Evergreen line… I haven’t looked at the alignment maps recently but I remember Falcon trying to push for a more ill-conceived, ill-intentioned route.

    There’s a meeting coming up (or perhaps I missed it?) about the rapid transit line to UBC. Apparently there’s a community group fighting for LRT, which is encouraging, and from what I’ve heard personally from the Mayor, he’s in favour of LRT. See where that goes. I’ll have to blog about the Olympic Line as well.

    Erika Rathje

    January 22, 2010 at 12:44 am

  5. To be sure,

    “Trimming specification” of Canada Line was meaning:

    reducing the number of station on Sea Island from 5 to 3, and stop Richmond branch a Westminster highway instead of Granville.

    but most of the trick to fit in budget was achieved by financial engineering:
    Means the builder/operator doesn’t get oay full construction cost, but is allowed to inflate operating cost to overcome the initial shortfall+interest.


    January 22, 2010 at 10:55 pm

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